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Hawaiian terms for stars, planets and space


Hawaiian terms and names for stars

hoku. Star.
hoku lewa. Moving star, planet.
Hoku’ai’aina. Name of a navigator star. Literally, star ruling land.
hoku-ala. Same as hoku-‘ae’a. Literally, rising star
Hoku-ali’i. Same as hoku-loa. Called Hoku-ali’i-wahine in Kep. 83.
Hoku-ho’okele-wa’a. The star Sirius. Literally, canoe-guiding star.
Hoku-ili. See Hoku.
Hoku-kau-‘opae. Evening star. Literally, star for placing shrimp.
Hoku-komohana. Morning star. Literally, western star.
Hoku-le’a. name of a star, perhaps Arcturus.
Hoku-pa’a. North Star. Literally, immovable star.
Hoku-palemo. See Hoku.
hoku-ukali. Satellite star. Literally, following star.
Hoku-‘ula. Name of a star. See Au-haele. (Au-haele. Name of a star, companion to Hoku-‘ula and Pai-kauhale. Perhaps the three are Sigma, Antares, and Tau Scorpii.
Mahana. 2. Castor and Pollux. Also called Na-hoku-mahana, na-mahoe, nana-hope, nana-mua. [Mahoe. Literally, Twins.]
Na-hoku-mahana. See Mahana.

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Hawaiian terms and names for planets

Hoku-ao. Morning star, Venus when seen in the morning.
Hoku-loa. Same as Hoku-ao.
hoku’ae’a. Planet. Literally, wandering star
hoku-hele. Same as hoku-‘ae’a. Literally, traveling star
hoku lewa. Moving star, planet.

Jupiter. Iupika. (Names reported for Jupiter: Ao-hoku, ‘Iao, Ikiiki, Ka’a-wela, Ho’omanalo.
Mars. Holoholo-pina’au (perhaps)
Mercury. Ukali-ali’i.
Saturn. Makulu.
Uranus. Heleekela. Hereekela.
Venus. Hoku-ao, Hoku-loa, Mananalo, Manalo, Wenuka, Ka’awela (probably)

from Hawaiian Dictionary
Mary Kawena Pukui and Samuel H. Elbert
University Press of Hawai’i

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Naholoholo – Venus
Kawela - Mercury
Hoomanalonalo - Jupiter
Holoholopinaau - Mars
Makulu - Saturn

from The Journal of William Richards (1841)
(Hawaii State Archives Manuscript Series M-126)

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Hawaiian names for constellations

Hoku-‘iwa. A Hawaiian constellation, perhaps Bootes. Literally, frigate-bird [‘iwa] star.
Na-hiku. Constellation of the Big Dipper. Literally, the seven.
Na-hoku-pa. Constellation of five stars forming a circle; they are said to be near Na-hiku, the Big dipper. Literally, enclosure stars.
Hoku-pa. Name of a constellation, perhaps Leo or the head of Cetus. Literally, fence star.
Hanai-a-ka-malama. the Southern Cross. Literally, foster child of the moon.
Hoku-ke’a. Southern Cross. Literally, cross star
Makali’i. Pleiades; Castor and Pollux.

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Hawaiian terms for comets, meteors, asteroids

hoku-helele’i. a design on Niihau mats. Literally, falling stars.
hoku-lele. Shooting star, meteor, any moving star.
hoku-li’ili’i. Asteroid, small star.
hoku-puhi-paka. Comet. Literally, tobacco-smoking star. (modern)
hoku-welowelo. Shooting star, comet. Literally, streaming star.

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Hawaiian terms for space

lewa. Sky, atmosphere, space, air, upper heavens, aerial.
lewa mawaho. Outer space.
lewa lilo loa, lewa luna lilo. Outer space, highest atmosphere.
lewa lani. Highest stratum of the heavens.
lewa nu’u. Space in the heavens lower than the lewa lani; atmosphere reached by birds.
lewa lani lewa. Lower atmosphere, just above the lewa ho’omakua.
lewa ho’omakua. Space just above the surface of the earth. (Malo 10)

from Hawaiian Dictionary
Mary Kawena Pukui and Samuel H. Elbert
University Press of Hawai’i

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In the ao ‘aumakua were
a lani kuaka‘a (the highest heaven),
a lani kuakini [a heaven of myriads],
a lani kuamanomano [a heaven of multitudes],
the lewa lani [the heavenly firmament],
the lewa nu‘u [the cloud firmament],
na paia ku a Kane (the standing walls of Kane),
nakukulu o ka lani (the supporting pillars of heaven),
those [spirits] of the spread-out earth (ko ka honua palahalaha),
the ever-beautiful sun (ko ka la mau nani),
the bright-shining moon (ko ka mahina koha‘iha‘i),
the ever-adorning stars (ko na hoku mau ho‘ohiwahiwa),
and all the other places, too numerous to mention, that were called realms of the ‘aumakua.

The People of Old
Samuel Manaiakalani Kamakau

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SPACE

The highest stratum of space, lewa, is the lewa lani;
the place below the lewa lani — equidistant from the sky downward and the earth upward — was called ka ho‘oku‘i, the juncture, or ka ho‘ohalawai, the meeting; this was named Kamaku‘ialewa (The joining place of space).
Below Kamaku‘ialewa, and close to the circle of air that surrounds the earth [the atmosphere] is Keapoalewa (The ring of space).
Below (malalo o) Keapoalewa, in (maloko o) the atmosphere where birds fly, is the lewa nu‘u.
The space in which a man's legs dangle as he holds onto a branch of a tree is called the haka-a-lewa (ladder to space).
If a man stands on the ground and lifts up one foot, leaving the other on the ground, this is called lewa ho‘omakua (a space established), because of the one foot remaining on the ground.

The Works of the People of Old
Samuel Manaiakalani Kamakau

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Other terms

piko-o-Wakea. 1. Equator.
Hoku-noho-aupuni. A name for the Milky Way. Literally, ruling star
hoku-kai. Starfish. Cf. more common pe’a.

from Hawaiian Dictionary
Mary Kawena Pukui and Samuel H. Elbert
University Press of Hawai’i

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Midnight, the period when men are wrapped in sleep, is called au-moe (the tide of sleep).

When the milky way passes the meridian and inclines to the west, people say "ua huli ka ia", the fish has turned.

Ua ala-ula mai o kua - there comes a glimmer of color in the mountains
ua moku ka pawa o ke ao - the curtains of night are parted
a keokeo mauka - the mountains light up
a wehe ke ala-ula - day breaks
a pua-lena - the east blooms with yellow
a ao loa - it is broad daylight

Hawaiian Antiquities
David Malo

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Ulu o ka la.
Growth of the sun.
Said of the light of sunrise just as the sun’s rim touches the horizon.

Mary Kawena Pukui
‘Olelo No‘eau, Hawaiian Proverbs and Poetical Sayings

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In 1865, S.M. Kamakau wrote about ancient Hawaiian astronomy, as he had been instructed by the aged Kaneakaho‘owaha of Kamehameha I's time (translated by W. D. Alexander, 1891). Several alignments were followed by the ancient navigators. Among them were

"Ke alaula a Kane" (the dawning, or bright road of Kane), on the east;
"Ke alanui maaweula a Kanaloa" (the much traveled highway of Kanaloa), on the west;
and "Ke alanui i ka Piko o Wakea" (the way to the navel [equator] of Wakea)
(Kamakau in Alexander 1891:142).

~excerpt from
Mauna Kea – Kuahiwi Ku Ha‘o i ka Malie
A Report on Archival and Historical Documentary Research
Ahupua‘a of Humu‘ula, Ka‘ohe, districts of Hilo and Hamakua, Island of Hawai‘i
By Kepa Maly
©1997 Kepa Maly, Kumu Pono Associates and Native Lands Institute

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Hawaiian terms for kahuna (experts) in earth and space science

There were many other orders of kahunas, such as the

papa hulihonua, those who knew the configurations of the earth ["land experts"];
papa kilokilo lani, those who could read the signs, or omens, in the sky;
the kilo hoku, those who studied the stars;
the kilo ‘opua, those who studied and read the omens in clouds;
the kilo honua, those who read the signs in the earth.

Ka Po‘e Kahiko
The People of Old

Samuel Manaiakalani Kamakau

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Papa huli honua. Class of high priests versed in study of the earth.
Kilo. Stargazer, reader of omens, seer, astrologer.
Kilo hoku. Astrologer, astronomer; to observe and study the stars.
Kilo lani. Soothsayer who predicts the future by observing the sky; to do so.
Kilo makani. One who observes the winds for purposes of navigation; to so observe.
Kilo moana. Oceanography, oceanographer; to observe and study the open seas.

from Hawaiian Dictionary
Mary Kawena Pukui and Samuel H. Elbert
University Press of Hawai’i

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see also
Na Inoa Hoku
by Rubellite Kawena Johnson and John Kaipo Mahelona

Topgallant Publishing Co. Ltd., 1975

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They [the Hawaiians] were acquainted with five planets, which they called "traveling stars." Hoapili [from a line of priest of the "class of Ka-uahi and Nahulu"] was much in the habit of observing these that he could at any moment tell the then present positions of each.

Their names were as follows:

Kawela - Mercury
Naholoholo - Venus
Hoomanalonalo - Jupiter
Holoholopinaau - Mars
Makulu - Saturn

Hoapili said he had heard from others that there was one more traveling star, but he never recognised [sic] it, and was acquainted with only these five. The more distinguished fixed stars and constellations not only had their distinct names, but the people were in the habit of observing them so accurately that they judged the hours of the night quite as correctly as they did the hour of the day. This remark applies most particularly to the fishermen and those persons whose employment called them to be out considerably in the night.

It was by the particular positions of the planets in relations to certain fixed stars and constellations, that the prophets grounded their predictions in relation to the forte of battles, the success of new enterprises etc, etc. The contiguity of their planets to certain fixed stars was considered to be a real indication of the pending death of some high chief. The goddess of the Volcano was also supposed to hold intercourse with these traveling stars, and from their movements therefore, the people often predicted hers.

The motions of the stars in the vicinity of the north pole, attracted their attention considerably and were often a subject of dispute among the astrologers. These they said were "traveling stars, but they travel regularly, where as the others wander here and there."

Their best Chronologists, measured time by means both of the moon and fixed stars. They divided the year into twelve months, and each month into thirty days. They had a distinct name for each of the days of the month, and commenced the numbering on the first day that the new moon appeared in the west. This course made it necessary to drop a day about once in two months, and thus reduce their year to twelve lunations instead of three hundred and sixty days which they numbered according to their theory.

This being about eleven days less than the sidereal year, they discovered the discrepancy, and corrected their reckoning by the stars. In practice therefore, the year varied, having some times twelve, and some times thirteen lunar months. So also they sometime numbered twenty nine days in a month.

Though their system was thus broken and imperfect, still as their chronologists could tell the name of the day and the name of the month on which any great event occurred, it was generally easy to revise their time to ours by a reference to the phase of the moon at the time. Having nothing to rely upon except merely their memories, they were also liable to numerous mistakes even in their own method.

Eclipses were uniformly considered to be brought about by an attack of the gods on the sun & moon, and always presaged a war, the death of some high chief, or some other disaster.

The ability of foreigners to predict eclipses, and other astronomical phenomina at first created the highest astonishment. The first almanac published by the American missionaries predicting the phases of the moon, eclipses, tides &c., in 1834, was received by them with great interest, and tended much to confirm their belief in the testimony of the missionaries on every subject.

They were however themselves, in the habit of referring the tides to the actions of the moon, and when they could see the moon, were able to tell the state of the tides.

from The Journal of William Richards (1841)
(Hawaii State Archives Manuscript Series M-126)

~excerpt from
Mauna Kea – Kuahiwi Ku Ha‘o i ka Malie
A Report on Archival and Historical Documentary Research
Ahupua‘a of Humu‘ula, Ka‘ohe, districts of Hilo and Hamakua, Island of Hawai‘i
By Kepa Maly
©1997 Kepa Maly, Kumu Pono Associates and Native Lands Institute


 

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